A person is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. Missing People is the only charity in the UK which is dedicated to bringing the 176,000 children and adults that go missing every year back together with their families.
The charity has seen the number of vulnerable adults contacting its helpline rise by almost 20% in 2020, as the impacts of lockdown have sparked a rise in the number of people thinking about disappearing. A recent survey found that two-thirds of vulnerable people felt lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health, while half said it had become harder to access support services.
The flexible backing from players of People's Postcode Lottery has allowed Missing People to quickly implement a new digital phone system to enable its teams to work safely from home and launch a virtual social support group for families. Its frontline services team continues to provide crisis support remotely to adults, children and families.
Remote volunteering has become an essential part of Missing People's volunteering programme during the pandemic. A large proportion of volunteers work on its essential helpline. To ensure they can continue being a lifeline to those affected, it has trained these volunteers to provide support by online chat, from home.
Funding awarded to Missing People in 2020 has meant that:
- 1,699 vulnerable missing children and adults searched for were found safe and well.
- 784 children and young people aged under 18 were supported over online chat in 2020, while a further 460 were supported by phone and 1,108 by email or text.
- 1,862 missing children and young people responded to a TextSafe message, and a further 39 received dedicated support via its SafeCall or return home interview services.
- It has provided specialist support for 2,047 families with a missing loved one, as well as dedicated support for 54 families worried about a young person affected by county lines.
Support from our players will help Missing People to continue the digital transformation of its support services to enable those with lived experience to shape its work and help more people. Mental health and money problems are a key reason people go missing, and the financial and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to lead to a significant increase in these issues, perhaps at a scale not seen before. This is likely to be most acutely felt in disadvantaged communities and those who are already socially excluded. The charity's work has never been more important. With this vital support, Missing People be there for them this year, and always.
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